Session Title

Water as Symbol, Sign, and Trial: Aquatic Semantics in the Middle Ages

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Research Group on Manuscript Evidence; Societas Magica

Organizer Name

Mihai-D. Grigore

Organizer Affiliation

Institut für Europäische Geschichte Mainz

Presider Name

Frank Klaassen

Presider Affiliation

Univ. of Sasketchewan

Paper Title 1

Water as Medium of Fate in Assorted Icelandic Sagas

Presenter 1 Name

Thomas B. de Mayo

Presenter 1 Affiliation

J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College

Paper Title 2

Still Waters — Running Waters: The Topography of Evil in Medieval Art and Imagery

Presenter 2 Name

Mihai-D. Grigore

Paper Title 3

Response

Presenter 3 Name

Florin Curta

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Univ. of Florida

Start Date

10-5-2013 10:00 AM

Session Location

Schneider 1355

Description

From its very beginnings, mankind has recognized in water an element of immense complexity and fundamental importance for life and death, for redemption or doom. Whether traditional or modern, archaic or contemporaneous, religious or secularized, many cultures over time have integrated water within their narratives, as the one of the most powerful symbolic complexes, by using it as sign of tacit or explicit desires, hopes, anxiety, and faith. The close interface with human existence and destiny directed humans to see in water, or in aquatic powers, a magical ally in their attempts to influence Fortuna.

This session considers on ways in which medieval cultures across Europe conceived of water in religious, juridical, and magical valences, as manifested in attitudes and in everyday life, as well as in exceptional or emergency situations. From birth to burial, from the afterlife to the End Times, water has ever accompanied and even impacted human life not only in its physiological-material, but also in its symbolic-magical, forms. Though omnipresent, water in its semiotic ramifications within medieval cultures has not been studied adequately.

Our session draws attention to one of the most important and under-researched topics in the cultural history of the Middle Ages. Themes to explore include not only aquatic initiations and ordeals, visualizations of Heaven and Hell, and the symbolic topography of water and waters within the medieval imagination, but also the presence of themes, motifs, rituals, and spells involving aquatic symbolism and crafts in medieval manuscripts, inscriptions, and images.

Mildred Budny

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May 10th, 10:00 AM

Water as Symbol, Sign, and Trial: Aquatic Semantics in the Middle Ages

Schneider 1355

From its very beginnings, mankind has recognized in water an element of immense complexity and fundamental importance for life and death, for redemption or doom. Whether traditional or modern, archaic or contemporaneous, religious or secularized, many cultures over time have integrated water within their narratives, as the one of the most powerful symbolic complexes, by using it as sign of tacit or explicit desires, hopes, anxiety, and faith. The close interface with human existence and destiny directed humans to see in water, or in aquatic powers, a magical ally in their attempts to influence Fortuna.

This session considers on ways in which medieval cultures across Europe conceived of water in religious, juridical, and magical valences, as manifested in attitudes and in everyday life, as well as in exceptional or emergency situations. From birth to burial, from the afterlife to the End Times, water has ever accompanied and even impacted human life not only in its physiological-material, but also in its symbolic-magical, forms. Though omnipresent, water in its semiotic ramifications within medieval cultures has not been studied adequately.

Our session draws attention to one of the most important and under-researched topics in the cultural history of the Middle Ages. Themes to explore include not only aquatic initiations and ordeals, visualizations of Heaven and Hell, and the symbolic topography of water and waters within the medieval imagination, but also the presence of themes, motifs, rituals, and spells involving aquatic symbolism and crafts in medieval manuscripts, inscriptions, and images.

Mildred Budny